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The United States tax code is (deliberately?) confusing and complex. Even the best tax experts are often tripped up with the details. No one expects the average consumer to be able to navigate the tax code efficiently, so the IRS offers some resources to help you.

Call the IRS customer service line at (800) 829-1040. It's an automated system that gives tons of information on common tax questions. You'll be able to navigate through several menus to look for answers to your question. If you call on weekdays between 7am and 10pm, you can talk to a live person if necessary. But you might have to wait on hold for a while.

The IRS has tons of information online, including some of the most frequently requested tax topics. You can also find forms, instructions, and publications (more detailed information on certain topics) on the IRS website. And you can still go to an IRS office in person to get help too. Many offices have people to help you get the right forms and answer your questions. Look for a Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) in your area.

Beware: The help you receive could be limited. Most times that is because the person trying to help you doesn't have enough information from you to give solid advice. Have details and exact figures ready when contacting the IRS to maximize their help-giving capabilities.

Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

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